Whale & Dolphin Watching in the Azores

8 days
Suitable for:
Age 16+
Activity level:
Activity Level: Leisurely
Trip code: 
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Marine Wildlife
Group size:
Min age:

Discover one of Europe's top destinations for whale watching

Azores is a true paradise for nature lovers with blue lakes smothered in flowers, deep verdant craters of dormant volcanoes and breathtaking landscapes from the mountains. Each island of the Azores is home to a myriad of cultures and traditions that will leave a lasting memory. Our itinerary includes some excellent opportunities to see whales and dolphins off the coast of three islands in the archipelago of Azores and we learn about various conservation projects from the knowledgeable locals. During out time on Faial Island, we also have the opportunity to learn more about the various bird species attracted to this island thanks to its diverse landscape formed from volcanic activity. Finally we end our experience on the 'Green Island', or Sao Miguel, where lush colours of verdant pastures surround us on our visits to renowned Sete Cidades Crater and Fire Lakes.


  • Spectacular varied scenery
  • Whale and dolphin watching tours included
  • Visit Sete Cidades Crater Lakes and Fire Lake
  • Excellent birdwatching opportunities

Key information

  • 7 nights comfortable 3 and 4-star hotels 
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus leader. Min age 16 years
  • Greater chances of Blue whale sightings in June
  • Travel by bus, boat and internal flights
  • Countries visited: Portugal

What's included

  • All breakfasts and 5 lunches
  • All accommodation 
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights) and internal flights (for all clients, including land only)
  • Arrival and departure transfers (if travelling on group flights)

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailor made trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 


Ponta Delgada
Ponta Delgada
  • Day 1

    Fly to Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel Island.

    Fly to Ponta Delgada, on Sao Miguel island, the largest and greenest island of the Azores archipelago.
    Comfortable Hotel

  • Day 2

    Whale watching excursion; transfer to Furnas Valley to visit hot springs.

    The Azores are currently one of the world’s largest whale sanctuaries hosting more than 20 different types of resident and migrant species. We start the week off with a morning whale watching excursion offering the chance to spot whales and dolphins on our boat journey down to the south coast of the island. We arrive in Ribeira Quente, a fisherman's village and transfer to Furnas Valley by bus where we enjoy a spectacular meal of the famous Cozido das Caldeiras. This is a style of cooking that buries sealed pots in the baking earth. After lunch, we take in the sights of romantic lakes, winding pathways, exotic flowers and thermal waters in Park Terra Nostra, before continuing onto the hot springs. One of the most spectacular forms of volcanic activity we see here are fumaroles, which spout boiling water and medicinal mud. We return to Ponta Delgada and stop en route at the tea plantations of Gorreana where we visit the tea factory and taste the local black and green teas. Overnight in Ponta Delgada.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 3

    Fly to Pico; to Faial Island and Horta; visit Scrimshaw Museum.

    After breakfast we transfer to the airport for a short flight to Pico Island. After trasferring to Maddalena, we explore the charismatic village and have lunch in a local restaurant. We continue to Faial by ferry (approx. 30 mins). Faial is also known as the Blue Island thanks to all the blue hydrangeas that decorate the houses, divide the fields and line the roadsides. After checking in at our hotel, we enjoy a guided tour around Horta boasting a picturesque marina, primary stop for yachts crossing the Atlantic, and buildings covered with colourful paintings.  In the afternoon we visit the Scrimshaw Museum and its impressive collection of engraved whales’ teeth and bones originating from the times when whaling in the Azores was still common practice. We conclude the sightseeing with a visit to Peter’s Cafe Sport, the Azores' most famous pub which has been opened since 1918.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 4

    Whale and dolphin watching between Faial and Pico Islands.

    Today we embark on our whale and dolphin watching tour between the Faial and Pico Islands. There are 80 species of whales and dolphins on the planet and 25 of them have been sighted off the coast of the Azores, with the most common being Sperm whale, Bottlenose dolphin, Short-finned pilot whale; Atlantic spotted dolphin and the Blue whale. During our excursion, we observe the behaviour of these cetaceans and learn more about their habitat with the help of the knowledgeable local experts on board. We should always respect their environment and therefore during times of feeding or resting, we avoid any interference and maintain our distance. Please note this activity is completely dependent on sea conditions and if we cannot reschedule the tour, then an alternative visit to the vineyards of Pico Island will be offered.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 5

    Birdwatching around the coast of Faial Island to observe land and sea birds.

    Enjoy a full day visiting the beautiful land and sea of Faial Island - its fascinating islets, unusual rock formations from volcanic activity, picturesque windmills and lush green pastures offer an incredible variety of landscapes. Along the coast, we have a superb mix of land and seabirds to observe in their natural habitat, such as Tern Pink and nests of Seagulls in the Capelinhos Volcano as well as Shearwater and Bat, which are endemic to the Azores. We return to Horta for a short briefing from the University of the Azores on the ecology and conservation of various species of seabirds. In the evening you may decide to join an optional night walk down to the coast to hear some spectacular sounds from the Shearwater. These are nocturnal seabirds who come to the coast simply to breed and on their night-time visits, they often give eerie contact calls as they nest in burrows and lay their single white egg.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 6

    WSA: Free day; optional whale watching or swimming with dolphins; fly to Sao Miguel Island.

    As Pico Island is only a short ferry trip from Horta, it is an excellent option for our free day. Due to its geological age, this island is considered the 'wildest' island in the Azores archipelago. With UNESCO declaring the exotic vineyards (that grow on rock) as a World Heritage Site, beaches that are called natural swimming pools and former whaling villages, there is a completely different character for us to discover here. Perhaps others may prefer to head back to sea for an extra whale watching excursion or swimming with dolphins. There is also the opportunity to join the zodiac boat and go snorkelling. There is always a biologist and skipper on board to ensure every precaution is taken to protect the dolphin's habitat. In the afternoon we take a short flight back to Sao Miguel Island. Please note that choice of activities on the free day will be dependent on flight times.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Visit the crater lakes of Sete Cidades and the Fire Lake.

    There is some free time in the morning before heading out on our final adventure to explore the beauty of Sao Miguel island. Our 4WD excursion takes us through ravines and near volcano craters where we enjoy the wonderful landscape around Sete Cidades Volcano, including the Green and Blue Lakes. From Vista do Rei, we are rewarded with breathtaking views of tranquil lakes, blue hydrangeas bordering the crater rim that contrast with the steep sides of the crater. We then venture into this extinct volcano to visit the pretty village of Sete Cidades with its traditional architecture and verdant pastures. You may opt to to swim in the warm waters of Ferraria or Caldeira Velha (pool formed from a geyser). Our final treat is the Fire Lake in Barrosa Mountain, an enormous lake with jutting peninsulas and white sand beaches.

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 8

    Fly to London.

    After breakfast, we transfer to the airport for our flight to London.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info




There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts and 5 lunches are included.

Breakfasts are buffet style with a variety on offer including bread, jams cereals, and of course tea and coffee. For lunch, we usually enjoy a set menu with drinks included, except for day 4 where a picnic is provided. In the evening, the leader will recommend local restaurants that serve traditional Azores food, which can be a selection of meat or fish with vegetables and potatoes or rice. Vegetarians are well catered for in Azores as long as the hotels are advised in advance.


Is this trip for you?

This tour is graded 'Leisurely' and includes two whale and dolphin watching tours, an excursion through the wilderness of Faial Island and visits to Sao Miguel Island's famous Sete Cidades and Fire Lake by 4WD. We visit three islands of the Azores archipelago, with the option to spend more time on Pico on the free day. With the Azores' extinct volcano craters, wild landscapes covered in blue hydrangeas and stunning coastal cliffs, plenty of stops will be included so there is enough time to take the best photographs or simply admire the views. There will be some walking which is not technically difficult and should not present difficulties for anyone with a reasonable level of fitness.The whale and dolphin watching excursions are not recommended for pregnant ladies or those with heart or back problems. As they depend completely on sea condition, the excursions can therefore never be guaranteed yet alternative activities will be offered. We will amend the itinerary over the week in order to provide the best chances to see whales and dolphins and if sea conditions remain the same for the duration of the week, we will instead offer a tour of Pico Island. The area is also subject to rain at any time so it is best to be prepared for this before you travel. On departures in May and October, it is best to bring warm clothes in case of colder weather.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as not suitable for full wheelchair users, but it may be suitable for other persons of reduced mobility. Please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailor made trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.


3 and 4-star hotels

In Sao Miguel we usually stay at the 3-star NEAT Hotel Avenida. The accommodation is conveniently located in the historic centre of Ponta Delgada and the rooms feature a flat-screen TV with cable channels and a private bathroom. Rooms usually include a desk and a sitting area.

In Faial we stay at the 4-star Hotel Horta, located on the picturesque ocean front of Horta with great views of Pico Island. It features rooms with balconies, a large garden and an outdoor pool. 

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailor made trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed July 2019
    Mike Giles

    Much more than it says on the tin!

    Ordinarily fans of group holidays we chose Tailormade for this trip as none was available the week we wished to travel. We were so impressed with the service that this may now have implications for our future adventures. Although we sometimes missed the company of fellow travellers we enjoyed the same itinerary and were blessed with the undivided attention of our guide, drivers and specialist wherever we went. We rarely handled our bags and as Seniors we welcomed an additional hand that always seemed available when alighting boats and other vehicles in which we travelled. The Islands are very different and each has its own ecosystem and character. Centrally based good quality hotels in both Sao Miguel and Faial enable main features of both to be fully explored without constantly moving on. Every type of land and sea transportation is readily available and Island hoping is easy using local ferries and inter-island air services.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Of course, the highlight of the trip must be Whale and Dolphin Watching. This is mainly focused around Peter’s Café Sport a unique establishment in Horta where you can mingle with the locals, boat skippers, conservationists and likeminded visitors becoming part of a clique exchanging daily experiences of sightings of these cratures and many others too. Properly briefed and kitted out we set out in groups of no more than a dozen aboard RIBs accompanied by marine specialists and directed over CB by spotters strategically located on the coastline. These boats are ideal for the purpose not only offering a fast exhilarating ride over the distances to be covered but a stable viewing platform riding easy on the swell near the creatures encountered. On one trip we saw at least nine individual whales diving and feeding, also a mother with calf so close you could smell the breath. On another we were accompanied by a huge school of dolphins teasing the skipper with their agility to dive and reappear unexpectedly at any point around the boat.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nuno Garcia was our Local Guide, and local in every way. He seems to know everyone on and everything about the Islands where he was born, lives and so obviously loves. Add to this his naturalist knowledge and professionalism he is the perfect guide. To the two of us he became a friend and travelling companion and it was sad and strange when he did not come home with us!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The weather may be stated as variable so pack accordingly. However we found it generally kinder than forecast and did not unpack either fleece or rain-gear at all during the week. If you intend bathing in thermal pools don’t wear your best swimsuit or one that is dominantly light coloured, it may not stay that way!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    In a Euro economy we expected European costs but were pleasantly surprised by favourable prices in restaurants and shops.
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Karen White

    Whale & Dolphin Watching in the Azores

    A great holiday. Islands were beautiful, lovely group of people to travel with and our Guide, Nuno, was second to none. It was clear from Nuno and other guides we had on other trips that not only were they all very knowledgeable on their subject (in Nuno's case this was everything!) but everyone was wonderfully passionate about the islands and the environment. The holiday packed a lot in but Nuno built in a bit of "down time" for us too. You just have to be prepared that SATA Airlines are not too good with their time-keeping!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Sitting on a rib boat with dolphins racing right by your boat and the most breath-taking scenery inland especially on Sao Miguel. On Faial, I also loved the evening trip to the cliffs to hear the Cory Shearwater coming home to roost. Sitting in the dark listening to the sounds around us was surreal and an experience I will never forget. And of course in June the hydrangeas are stunning. Thanks to Nuno the three nights in Faial in a hotel room facing the harbour and sea was another plus.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nuno was amazing! Just one big bundle of happiness and a joy to travel with. He was everything - extremely organised; he tweaked the itinerary when required so that we got the best of everything; any last minute changes caused by airlines; hotels or other companies were dealt with efficiently so we never had to worry about anything; his knowledge of the islands was incredible; some of his stories hilarious and his sense of humour was just brilliant! The world would be a happier place if there were more Nunos in it!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    SATA airlines are not the greatest of time keepers On the rib boats for whale and dolphin watching it is tight for space and can be very bumpy so need to be aware of that if you have back problems. Also, you can occasionally get wet from spray so make sure you have something suitable to cover your camera.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just sit back and enjoy these stunning islands, wonderful and interesting people and if you are lucky the sheer fun of spending a week with Nuno!
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Mary McGrath

    Loved every minute....

    The Azores is a must see destination - beautiful islands and close encounters with marine mammals .

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Sperm whale and dolphin encounters and flying fish !

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Nuno was the best tour guide I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Clear information and guidance , an expert in his Azorean roots and environment but most of all the most kindest and thoughtful individual. Full of fun but extremely professional. Thank you Nuno!👏🙏

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Action packed trip up and out every day - the ocean trips are up to Mother Nature to deliver but when she does - wow! The sea can be a bit bumpy for some of the boat trips but always safety first so be prepared for long trips about 90 mins out to sea before you see any activity- when you do it’s so worth it!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Great trip with a great guide - well done exodus and Nuno !
  • Reviewed June 2019
    Alan Follas

    Whales and Dolphins

    This was an excellent trip led by a great leader - Nuno Garcia. His enthusiasm for all the Azores had to offer was infectious. Even though we did not see many whales the trip was marvellous. One that I would seriously consider doing again.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing our first whales - Fin whales, the second largest whale.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Absolutely marvellous.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Go and enjoy. Soak up all the Azores has to offer.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.


What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.


2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.


3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.


 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 


Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]